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Former ambassador to China: U.S. cannot go it alone on North Korea

PBS NewsHour’s John Yang talks with former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus about this week’s meeting between President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping.

President Donald Trump’s meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida are over, but he needs to continue to work with his Chinese counterpart on dealing with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear missile program, said Max Baucus, who served as the U.S. ambassador to China under the Obama administration.

President Trump said earlier this month that the U.S. is prepared to act alone on North Korea’s nuclear program if China chooses not to act.

But Baucus, also a former Democratic senator from Montana, told PBS NewsHour’s John Yang that “we, as Americans, I think have no choice but to try to find a solution with China. We cannot do this unilaterally.”

Because North Korea is a nuclear power, the U.S. can’t just strike it with Tomahawk missiles as it did Thursday night in Syria as a response to a chemical attack on Syrian civilians, Baucus said.

Hitting the reclusive Asian nation economically, Baucus continued, requires coordination because “about 80 percent of the North Korean economy is dependent on China.” China is a major player in the region. “This is in my judgement the most important bilateral relationship in the world, the U.S. and China,” the former ambassador said. “We’re very interconnected” and depend on each other for results, he added.

Find more coverage of President Trump’s meetings with President Xi Jinping here.

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